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Hi! After years of only using Macs I am thinking of switching to a PC. I have been reading various posts on the forum but I also realize that technology changes often and many of the links that are shared regarding laptops are no longer valid or the specific products is no longer available. I was wondering if you have any new suggestions for laptops? My budget is anywhere from 1k-3k. I have also thought about purchasing a separate monitor for editing when I am home during the week.  I understand the specs that you suggest as well just having a hard time finding a products that covers all those bases. Thank you so much for all your help!

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With laptop models, it used to be like what Apple does, a "Spring" line and a "Fall" line. It's not that way these days. A current model that I would recommend and link to would only be around for about 3 months, possibly much less...like 6 weeks. Combine that with the fact that laptops only last about 3 years or so, it can get confusing on just "What do I buy, Brian?"

My advice then is the same as now and these specs apply to BOTH desktops and laptops:
 

  • Intel i5 or i7 CPU
  • 8GB of RAM Minimum - 16GB or more preferred. Or the ability to upgrade from 8GB to 16GB/32GB
  • 1TB Hard drive
  • A separate and dedicated Video Card that has its own video memory of at least 2GB
  • A IPS-based screen that is matte, non-glossy or has anti-glare properties / coatings
  • Windows 7 Pro or Windows 10

For laptops, it really boils down to what display panel it has and the hard drive configuration. There are a lot of laptops that have a SSD and traditional HD configuration. The benefit is the laptop runs a lot faster doing normal tasks, due to the SSD being the "C" drive, the downside to this configuration is that it will make you think.

"Huh?"

Since the "C" SSD drives are usually pretty small, or microscopic by today's standards, (i.e. 128GB or 256GB,) you can't just click "Next-Next-Next...OK-Next-Next...Finish" any longer. You will have to be ANAL about what goes where, because I don't care how fast that new SSD drive is, if it's full...it won't help you at all and could crash. We have had a few members here have all sorts of weird problems and it's due to a small C: drive on their laptop that is almost completely full because they never do a "custom" install with software and tell ____________________ to install on the much larger D: drive. Heck, most of the time people have no idea that they have a 2nd hard drive in their laptop.

IPS-based screens have a much better viewing angle 170o (170 Degree) and are consistent from edge to edge color-wise, which is good for editing photos. That said, you still have an angle of view change each and every time you open the display lid or move the laptop, which changes how you perceive things like shadows or highlights. Even if it's a little bit. If you are serious about editing photos, I would purchase an external monitor that is easy to calibrate and doesn't move. If you must edit on a laptop screen, please buy this Acratech Viewing Gauge for $14.95:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/650472-REG

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Here is how you use it.

For the other items, you can't ever have too much RAM and 16GB seems to be the new normal these days. Between a i5 or i7 CPU, when it comes to PS, it really doesn't matter. In order to take advantage of the features that make a i7 so fast, the software needs to be programmed to take advantage of those features. Adobe Photoshop is not one of those programs that takes advantage of a i7 CPU's architecture. Conversationally speaking, there is only about a 5-7% performance boost with a i7 over a i5 when it comes to PS.  Now if you are editing video and playing video games on this thing, then definitely get a i7.

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I did some checking and here is a laptop that I would recommend:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1304023-REG/asus_gl553ve_ds74_15_6_republic_of_gamers.html
 

I did some checking around, and it does contain a IPS-like panel, (160o vs a true IPS 170o viewing angle) even though it's not listed. The downside to that laptop is that it has a 256GB SSD and a 1TB traditional HD, which seems to be the new normal.

Can we interest you in a desktop configuration? I really do not recommend laptops for photo-editing purposes.

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Can you send me a desk top recommendation? We travel on the weekends in our trailer so I was thinking the laptop would be convenient but truthfully I probably shouldnt be working on the weekends so that would help resolve that. 

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Again, the above bullet points in my previous post also apply to desktops.

  • Intel i5 or i7 CPU
  • 8GB of RAM Minimum - 16GB or more preferred. Or the ability to upgrade from 8GB to 16GB/32GB
  • 1TB Hard drive
  • A separate and dedicated Video Card that has its own video memory of at least 2GB
  • A IPS-based screen that is matte, non-glossy or has anti-glare properties / coatings
  • Windows 7 Pro or Windows 10
     

As for a brand, I still like the Dell XPS Tower Desktop line. It's decent for what it is. I would start with the $979.99 model and upgrade to Windows 10 Pro 64-bit for an extra $49. I'd also pick the Dell U2417H display in the list. The new hardware base price is: $1294.98, plus applicable shipping and tax. Also, it's cheaper to buy Microsoft Office with the machine, rather than purchasing it separately, but this is totally up you and will add to the cost. Speaking of Office, Microsoft has changed the rules in recent years. When you purchase a copy of Office, it "Marries" your computer. So if you purchased...say Office 2010 and want to install it on the new computer, chances are you won't have that option since it will only activate on your old computer. You are stuck with buying a new copy of Office and can't use your Office 2010.

Isn't Technology Wonderful? 

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